The New York Times reports yesterday that some progressive Democrats are “deeply reluctant, and in some cases scared, to criticize or abandon Mrs. Clinton, who supported the invasion of Iraq” and, therefore, are unwilling to encourage a debate with antiwar Senate candidate, Jonathan Tasini (who is polling at 13% and qualified for the ballot with 40,000 signatures).
If Democrats begin to fear challenge, dissent and debate the party will be in conflict with its core democratic principles. There is a way to recognize the good work Senator Clinton is doing on such issues as the minimum wage, engaging people on health care (though she is far less aggressive on that front these days), and on child welfare…. while also noting that she is maddeningly vague in her position on the War (though she is no Joe Lieberman, who tried to muzzle his colleagues).
Good Democrats should urge Clinton to debate Tasini and speak out on the direction that she envisions for our nation. Leaders are meant to embolden us at the most critical and trying times, not leave us hanging. Engaging Tasini is an opportunity for the Senator to clarify her vision for New Yorkers, Democrats, and the American people. It is also a way for her to answer critics who say she will never win in 2008 because voters believe she is unwilling to take a strong stand.